Publication: Issued: Date: 2001-03-26 Reporter: Editor:

Government will not Protect Yengeni - Maduna

Date 2001-03-26
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Justice Minister Penuell Maduna has said the government would not protect African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni if he was found to have fraudulently acquired a luxury vehicle from a company linked to the arms procurement deal. 

This follows yesterday's Sunday Times report which claimed Yengeni had mysteriously acquired a luxury Mercedes Benz 4X4 vehicle from a company involved in the arms deal. Maduna said: "It's not in our interest as the ANC or government or both to protect anyone." Maduna also said the allegations against Yengeni were serious and added that if they were true, the company involved would be guilty of corruption. 

ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama has in the meanwhile said the party would not suspend Yengeni before the outcome of investigations into corruption claims in the R43-billion arms deal. 

Ngonyama repeated there should not be a witch-hunt of individual MPs as the arms deal should be investigated as a whole and not in a piecemeal fashion. Ngonyama said Yengeni had met ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe in Johannesburg on Sunday, but declined to give further details. "The discussion was internal... (and) not for the public," he said. 

The heads of the three investigation agencies involved in a probe into the R43-billion arms deal were scheduled to meet in Pretoria today. Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, Public Protector Selby Baqwa and National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka were expected to attend the meeting "to discuss practical aspects of the multi-agency investigation requested by Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee," a spokesperson said. 

Furthermore, a spokesperson for DaimlerChrysler South Africa (Dasa) Annalise van der Laan has disclosed that a senior Dasa employee bought the luxury vehicle which was later registered in Yengeni's name. Speaking on Cape Talk radio, Van der Laan declined to name the individual, saying the matter was the subject of an internal investigation. Van der Laan denied he was a board member. She did, however, describe him as "a senior member of Daimler Chrysler Aerospace". 

She explained that staff members could buy a vehicle once a year. Once the vehicle was bought, DaimlerChrysler South Africa "has no further control". The buyer could resell the vehicle if he or she wished. Van der Laan repeated that DaimlerChrysler had launched its own internal investigation as to whether there was any "unethical behaviour". 

This followed reports that some of the company's records relating to the vehicle had been tampered with. Although DaimlerChrysler was not directly involved, it was necessary to have the inquiry because the company had to clear its name. 

The inquiry would be completed in the next day or two and a statement would then be issued. 

With acknowledgement to